Hello and welcome to the third of my playtest battle reports for my unofficial Swarms of the Hive Mind army list! The reason I put the previous two in the General Hobby Chat section (which you can find here and here) is because those batreps pitted the Tyranids against Dwarfs and Orcs and Goblins respectively. This one, on the other hand, featured the Lizardmen, and thus deserves a place in the proper Fantasy Battle Reports section of this Lizardmen forum. As with my other initial playtest batreps, I've been playing by myself with models from my own collection on both sides, as I want to make sure the unofficial Swarms of the Hive Mind list is decently balanced before using it against other people's armies. Without further ado, here's the Lizardmen list: Heroes General: Skink Chief with Shield and Biting Blade - 52 points Level 2 Skink Priest with the Cloak of Feathers, using the Lore of Heavens - 135 points Core 18 Saurus Warriors with Spears, Musician, Standard Bearer and Spawn-Leader - 218 points 18 Skinks with Standard Bearer - 100 points Special Stegadon with Unstoppable Stampede and Sharpened Horns - 245 points Total: 750 points First Impressions: This army has a mix of especially powerful and weak units, and is actually quite fast-moving with the Skink Skirmishers and Stegadon both having a move of 6, but is especially small - if they’re not careful the servants of the Old Ones will became swarmed by Tyranids, but if they can keep their stronger units from being overwhelmed and their weaker units from ending up in combat entirely, they have a good chance of prevailing. Both forces are made up of relentless cold-blooded killers with a reptilian vibe, so may the best reptile win! Deployment Battle for the Pass was rolled as the scenario for this fight. The Hive Mind won the roll-off to choose their half, and chose the side with the ruins and the hill to avoid the Lizardmen benefitting from the cover afforded by this half. The Lizardmen deployed first, placing the Skinks near the bog. The Hive Mind then responded by deploying the Gargoyles in amongst the ruins. The Lizardmen next placed the Saurus Warriors in front of the Temple of the Bog-Worshippers, and the Hormagaunts appeared directly facing them between the ruins and the hill. The Stegadon lumbered onto the battlefield facing the west in an attempt to outflank them, but the Hive Mind sent the Soldiers to cover that side. The Lizardmen has no more units to deploy, so the Skink Chief took cover in the Skink unit, while the Termagants deployed on the hill opposite them. The Skink Priest appeared beside the Saurus, and the Zoanthrope hovered into position between the Termagants and Hormagaunts to keep them under its supervision. The Lizardmen had nothing more to deploy, so the Hive Mind completed its deployment by placing the Soldier-Prime inside the Soldier unit, having vivid memories of what happened in the last battle when this didn’t happen. The Zoanthrope rolled ‘Onslaught’ for its Lore of the Hive Mind spell, while the Skink Priest rolled ‘Urannon’s Thunderbolt’ and ‘Comet of Cassandora’ for his Lore of Heavens spells. The Lizardmen won the roll to go first, and the third game began. Turn 1 The Lizardmen immediately launched an army-wide advance towards the alien menace that had intruded upon the world, the Saurus marching, the Skinks and Stegadon moving and the Skink Priest flying over to the other side of the Saurus. The Winds of Magic were initially quite tentative as the Skink Priest rolled a 7 for his power dice, giving the Tyranids 4 dispel dice. The Skink sorcerer first tried and failed to summon a thunderbolt to hit the Hormagaunts, and then successfully cast ‘Comet of Cassandora’ but the Zoanthrope just managed to dispel it. The only other action for the Children of the Old Ones this Phase was the Stegadon firing a shot from its Bolt Thrower at the Soldiers. Despite needing a 6 to hit, it got just that, and a 6 for its Multiple Wounds meant that one of the Soldiers was killed instantly by a giant crossbow bolt. The Hive Mind turn began with the Gargoyles swooping round to threaten the Saurus Warriors, the Hormagaunts and Termagants advancing, the Zoanthrope marching to keep up with them and the Soldiers and Prime staying put. In the Magic Phase the Zoanthrope attempted to cast an improved version of Onslaught to allow the Gargoyles to shoot the Saurus Warriors despite having marched, but this was dispelled easily by the Skink Priest. In the Shooting Phase the only missile fire to speak of was the Soldier with Venom Cannon retaliating against the Stegadon, a great crystal hitting the reptilian monster but failing to wound. Turn 2 The second turn began with the Stegadon trying to launch a thunderous charge against the Soldiers, but failed to reach them so moved only 6”. The Saurus Warriors fared better, barrelling 14” into the Hormagaunts, and the Skinks advanced towards the Termagants once again, keen to get the first shot against them, and the Skink Priest flew forward to get within close range of the Termagants. In the Magic Phase the Skink Priest received 8 power dice, and the Zoanthropes got 5 plus one it managed to channel. The Skink first attempted to cast Urannon’s Thunderbolt on the Termagants, but the Zoanthropes used all its dispel dice to easily nullify the attempt. This then left him free to summon the Comet of Casandora, sending the celestial body toward the centre of the ruins, where the Hormagaunts and Soldiers would be in easy reach. In the shooting phase, the Skinks peppered the Termagants with javelins and killed four, the Tyranids convulsing with the virulent jungle poisons, and in the single combat the Hormagaunts and Saurus Warriors duked it out. The Tyranids struck first and inflicted a large multitude of hits, but the thick scales of the Saurus meant only two fell, while six Hormagaunts were impaled upon the spears of the Lizardmen. The creatures rolled a 5 for their Break test, which, if they were Stubborn, would have kept them in the fight, but the large difference in casualties forced them to run. They did manage to escape their foe by travelling 10” compared to the 6” the Saurus moved in pursuit. The Hive Mind retaliated by rallying the Hormagaunts (for once), charging the Termagants into the Skinks, with the Lizardmen killing three of the Tyranids as they charged in, marching the Gargoyles round behind the Saurus Warriors and hovering the Zoanthropes forward to keep the Hunter Swarmlings under control. In the Magic Phase, the Comet failed to arrive and another dice was placed in its intended location, rather worryingly for the Saurus who had moved up to chase the Hormagaunts. The Zoanthrope cast Onslaught with resounding success this time, allowing the Tyranids to shoot the Saurus Warriors in the back despite having marched, and in the shooting phase they did just that, killing another two of the Lizardmen. The Soldier with the Venom Cannon fired at the Stegadon again but this time missed it. In the combat on the left, two Termagants were beaten to death, but six Skinks were torn apart or pincushioned with spines, the rest turning to run. The normally nimble Lizardmen only managed a measly three for their flee distance and were chased down by the quadrupedal Tyranids, but the Termagants’ hunger sent them beyond the Zoanthrope’s Synapse Range, meaning they would revert to their base instincts in the next Tyranid turn. Turn 3 The Lizardmen reacted with utmost aggression at the loss of their General, the Stegadon thundering forward into the Soldiers and Soldier-Prime and impaling a second Soldier upon its Sharpened Horns and knocking the Soldier with the Venom Cannon down to a single wound, but not before the Tyranid fired a razor-sharp crystal into the reptilian monster at close range, the shrapnel from the resulting impact shearing three deep wounds into the Stegadon’s scaly body. The Saurus once again charged the Hormagaunts and the Skink Priest flew to the safety of the hill away from the Gargoyles. In the Magic Phase the Comet still didn’t arrive, causing the Skink Priest to panic when he saw how close the survivors of the Lizardman army were to the landing spot. This caused him to only muster 4 power dice, which were all used to summon a thunderbolt to strike the Termagants. Despite rolling a 6 to hit, three 1s were rolled to wound, so two Termagants survived the blast. There was no longer any Lizardman shooting, so combat was joined once again. Against the Stegadon the Soldier Prime knocked another wound off the Stegadon, while both the badly-wounded Alpha Soldier and heavily-jolted Skink Crew failed to hit anything and the Stegadon crushed the Alpha Soldier beneath its great feet, the creature’s exoskeleton buckling in an explosion of alien ichor. In the second round of combat between the Saurus and Hormagaunts, three Saurus were brought down in return for another six Hormagaunts, once again breaking the Tyranids, but this time the aliens were not quick enough and were slaughtered upon the Saurus phalanx’s spears. The Hive Mind began its third turn by rolling to determine the outcome of the Termagants’ first panic test (a failure by one, which caused the creatures to flee toward the far end of the pass) and flying the Gargoyles forward to fire upon the Saurus, with the Zoanthrope hovering forward just behind them to threaten the Skink Priest. In the Magic Phase the Comet finally came down, but a three was rolled for the size of its impact crater, meaning no models from either side were harmed. The Zoanthrope showed no interest in casting its one spell this time, so in the Shooting Phase the Gargoyles once again fired upon the Saurus Warriors but only killed two. In the one remaining combat the Soldier Prime finished off the Stegadon, its long talons dealing the final blow to the great monster and killing it before it could fight back. Turn 4 In the fourth turn the Lizardmen marshalled the forces they had left, the Saurus Warriors reforming to face the Gargoyles and the Skink Priest flying to the top of the ruined doorway to get a good vantage point to cast spells upon the Soldier-Prime. In the Magic Phase the Skink Priest only received six power dice and the Zoanthrope received five dispel dice. Using them all to cast ‘Urannon’s Thunderbolt’, the Skink only managed to get a total of 20 from his six dice and his wizard level, but the Zoanthrope only managed 16, so the Soldier-Prime was hit by a second lightning bolt. Fortunately for the Hive Mind the Skink Priest only managed to score two hits, but both of these wounded the Tyranid General. There was no shooting or combat for the Lizardmen to resolve, so their turn 4 ended there. In the Hive Mind turn, the Termagants failed a second Panic Test through being outside Synapse Range and scuttled off the board, Soldier-Prime stalked around the ruins to flank the Saurus Warriors, the Gargoyles flew after the Skink Priest and the Zoanthrope hovered over to support the winged Swarmlings. It had no inclination to cast its one spell this turn, as the Gargoyles’ weapons were Quick-to-Fire, so the turn immediately progressed to the Shooting Phase, where the Gargoyles fires their Fleshborers at the troublesome Skink spellcaster. The Priest’s independence from the Saurus Warriors proved to be his downfall as he was torn to pieces by the snapping beetles fired by the winged Tyranids’ weapons. Turn 5 The Saurus Warriors began the next Lizardman turn by trying to charge the Zoanthrope, but couldn’t build up the momentum and traipsed forwards 4”. There was now no magic, shooting or combat for the Lizardmen so their penultimate turn was now over. The Hive Mind responded by moving the Zoanthrope safely out of the way of the Saurus Warriors’ charge and swooping the Gargoyles over to the other side of the Lizardmen. The Soldier-Prime remained almost motionless, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. In the Magic Phase the Zoanthrope cast ‘Onslaught’ with Irresistible Force, allowing the Gargoyles to shoot the Saurus but also causing the floating brain to suffer a Power Drain, reducing its Wizard Level to zero and stopping any more magic from being cast in this game. The Gargoyles then proceeded to fluff their shooting by only hitting two Saurus and failing to wound them. Turn 6 In the last turn of the game, all the Lizardmen could do was turn around to face the Soldier-Prime. In the last Hive Mind turn, the Soldier-Prime advanced forward and in the shooting phase, alongside the Gargoyles, poured missile fire into the Saurus Warriors, causing two more of the reptilian creatures to slump to the ground lifeless and ending the game. Lizardmen Victory Points: 457 (For destroying the Hormagaunts and Soldiers and causing the Termagants to flee the board) Hive Mind Victory Points: 657 (For killing the Stegadon, the Skink Priest and the Skink Chief, destroying the Skink Cohort and killing its Standard Bearer through Last Stand). A significant Hive Mind Victory! Unlike the two previous games, where the two armies were both quite hesitant of each other, this one was pretty brief and brutal, with both armies’ units charging each other head-on and most of the action finishing at the end of the third turn. Once that had all ended, things were looking more favourable toward the Hive Mind, but the Lizardmen still had a chance to even things up with the Skink Priest’s magic because that last Thunderbolt could easily have killed the Soldier-Prime and won the game for the Children of the Old Ones. Sadly for them the Dice Gods thought it was about time the Hive Mind had a victory and not only allowed the Soldier-Prime to survive but also made sure the Gargoyles shot the Skink Priest to pieces with their Fleshborers - a gamble that could so easily have paid off, but sadly did not. However, the Hive Mind didn’t completely have its own way, for the Hormagaunts were beaten soundly twice in combat by the Saurus Warriors, the Soldiers were shot, gored and trampled to death by a Stegadon and the Termagants suffered so many casualties from poisoned Skink Javelins that they were pretty much rendered useless for the rest of the game (the fact that they then strayed outside the Hive Mind’s supervision and fled the board only added to their weakness). Nevertheless, I’m pleased my unofficial army list has finally had a victory, and one that wasn’t a thrashing, as that shows it must have a good degree of balance to it. Let’s get on with individual unit analyses: Soldier-Prime: While he didn’t do amazingly, my general did redeem himself after his embarrassing death in the previous batrep. Not only did he manage to finish off the Stegadon that had quickly demolished the Soldiers, but also survived a lightning strike intended to assassinate him. I was originally considering moving him out of the Soldier unit in the turn before the Stegadon charged to avoid the Stegadon killing him, but the lucky Venom-Cannon shot that took three wounds out of it plus the fact that he was the best candidate in the Hive Mind army to try and take out the Stegadon both meant it was a good job he stayed there, otherwise the Saurus that had run down the Hormagaunts would have been joined by an angry Stegadon that could have been used to double-team anything that dare come against them. Hormagaunts: Once again the Hormagaunts underperformed, but this time they not only rallied in the turn directly after that in which they fled, meaning they could have another go at the Saurus, but did also take down five of them (funnily enough almost as many kills as they inflicted on a unit of Night Goblins in the previous game, so given that Saurus are probably the second-best Core unit in Warhammer Fantasy, they actually didn’t perform too badly at all this time). However, the odds were always going to be against them in this fight, as requiring 5+ to wound is always a killer from my experience, and there wasn’t much they could have done about it because the battlefield I’ve used is actually quite difficult to manoeuvre around when playing lengthways as in Battle for the Pass, meaning there wasn’t much opportunity for them to try and get the Saurus in the flank. Termagants: Once again these chaps did pretty well, their extra melee attacks coming in handy in routing the Skink Cohort and a good pursuit roll resulting in the Lizardman general being run down, though as mentioned before the Skinks were pretty lucky in their shooting, getting a lot of 6s and bypassing wound rolls. This then pretty much translated into insta-kills as Termagants only have a 6+ armour save against anything Strength 3 or below, leaving them heavily depleted after that fight. To make matters worse that good pursuit roll took them outside Synapse Range, and by then it was impossible to salvage them. It’s so easy to fail a panic test when testing against a measly Leadership of 5, but that is actually what I want from being outside Synapse Range. Something like this needs to give a highly significant deterrent to being outside Synapse Range, because otherwise players won’t bother to keep their units within Synapse Range and the rule will be pointless, so I’m pleased this rule works well. If any of you want to have a go at using my rules yourselves, you’d better be taking notes! Keep your Swarmlings in Synapse Range and you’ll be OK, otherwise you’ll be in all sorts of trouble (Tyranid players in 40K will sympathise!) Soldiers: These beasts actually suffered a bit in this game, losing one model almost straightaway from a lucky Bolt Thrower shot, a second from the Stegadon’s charge and the last being killed by it in combat. However, the Soldier with the Venom Cannon finally got to use his weapon against its designated targets (multi-wound models), taking 3 wounds off the Stegadon as it charged in and ultimately allowing the Soldier Prime to triumph against it. It was especially funny that this happened in the stand-and-shoot charge reaction when both times it shot normally it failed to do anything, but again that’s the luck of the dice, and that’s the first thing you need to establish in order to make it balanced. If it’s good with lucky dice rolls but poor with bad dice rolls, you’ve got it right. If it’s good with both good and bad dice rolls or bad with both good and bad dice rolls, it’s either too OP or too UP. Zoanthrope: This guy got one of the more useful spells in his Lore this time, and it worked brilliantly in conjunction with the Gargoyles to make a really annoying combo to fight. He had a bit of bad luck in the late game when he lost his one Wizard Level, but he still proved useful up until then, and did very well dispelling the Skink Priest’s Heavens spells, because those could certainly have done a lot more to help the Lizardmen had they been dispelled less often. Gargoyles: These chaps were great this game, getting on the Lizardmen’s nerves all the time. Unfortunately they didn’t actually kill that many Saurus due to unlucky hit and wound rolls (I expected a lot more from their S4 Armour-Piercing Fleshborers), but their speed and agility meant the Saurus just couldn’t do anything about them in the late game, allowing the Hive Mind to take the win. In the fourth turn was contemplating getting the Skink Priest to chase after them with his lightning bolts in a sort of dogfight, as he was the only one with similar agility that could do anything about them, but the gamble to try and kill off the Soldier-Prime to get 100 VPs proved too difficult to resist. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if the Priest had gone after the Gargoyles instead, and may well have taken the scores right down to the wire. Now to update the overall scoreboard: Swarms of the Hive Mind: 1 Official GW Factions: 2 This has brought the Hive Mind back into the contest, and if they win both of the next two matches they could still do really well for themselves. Once again, I hope you enjoyed this batrep, and given that this is the first time I've had access to my laptop in a long while, I'll be treating you to another one very shortly, this time pitting the Hive Mind against the old adversary of the Lizardmen, the Skaven!